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Friday, March 1, 2013

Afternoon Tea Review - Peninsula Hotel Bangkok

The Peninsula Afternoon Tea at The Peninsula Bangkok - Charoennakorn Road

Overall Score  8/10
Taste   4/5
Ambiance  5/5
Service  5/5
Value   3/5

Peninsula Afternoon High Tea on BUmRes.com (For more pictures and menu)

In Thailand, the tradition of sipping tea and relaxing al fresco style in the afternoon rarely exists and usually only available in hotels and some classy café in the hearts of Bangkok.  The delight of afternoon tea is part of the British culture for a few centuries.  Among the variety of teas and ways to formally enjoy a cup of tea in the afternoon, the Tea etiquettes are surprisingly complex; like cream tea to be enjoyed with scones, jam, and cream; and light tea with scones and sweets; while raising up the pinkies for balance, which will complicate the laid back culture of Thai people.   Moreover, the hot climate in Thailand may not be pleasing enough to sit outdoor and sip tea.  Nonetheless, hotels and cafes in Thailand still serve High Tea in the air conditioned setting and can be just as pleasurable for the hi so crowd who follows the classy trend of the Westerners.  At the lobby of the Peninsula Hotel Bangkok, afternoon high tea is served on regular basis.  Seating is available indoor as well as on the patio overlooking the Chao Phraya River.  An afternoon tea custom never once came across my enthusiastic, so this review occasion was unusual and unexpectedly impressed me greatly.          

To see all the coffee shops prevailing in every corner of this financial center with working individuals rushing to grab and go a cup of coffee and continue with their work routine, the afternoon tea culture appears to be quite difficult to fit into their everyday life– not only in Thailand but many economy driven cities around the world.  On the other side of the spectrum, there are rice folks who have more leisure lifestyle that would often value the pleasure of afternoon tea.  Besides these folks, there are westerners traveling to Thailand who cares to carry out this fine custom.  But for the larger group of locals, it is merely impractical for them to formally enjoy the English afternoon tea regularly.  However, the afternoon tea at the Peninsula Hotel Bangkok could be a great choice for a special occasion or for a business discussion. 

At the lobby of the Peninsula Hotel Bangkok, there is traditional afternoon tea set or what is formally called High tea, which usually comprised of savory, scones, and sweet items stacking on three levels.  The price for the set is 800++ baht.  The tea can be ordered on the side, so as other hot and cold beverages.  In the month of February, the hotel created a special set for the Chinese New Year.  The Chinese Afternoon Tea set for 888++ baht.  Eight is a number for wealth and prosperity in Chinese culture.  The review is on both traditional and Chinese.

I was with two other friends.  We all ordered different types of drink.  I had the Lychee Black tea.  At first I wanted a coffee but then I thought again.  This occasion is to experience the afternoon tea tradition, why order coffee.  My fruity tea was amazing.  The taste was rich and subtle, came with the delightful and fruity aroma of the lychee.  The other two drinks on the table were Mango Black and Hot Latte.  I would assume that the Mango Black is similar to mine except it would have the Mango scent.  For the Latte, my friend was so in love with it.  He said that his coffee was way better, Starbucks had no chance to compare.  Well, good to hear that.  After enjoying the drinks, we were getting pretty excited for the High Tea set.

Firstly, I will review the Traditional Afternoon Tea Set, which available all year long.  The items in the set are newly created every six months or so, which I think is great.      

Traditional Afternoon Tea Set (Menu change every 6 months)

- Mango cheese cake cube – the cheese part was rich and milky and the crust was ordinary
- Banatoffee chocolate – comes in the pyramid shape.  I didn’t know there was liquid stuffing, so it was a nice surprise.  Good blend of banana, chocolate, and a hint of alcohol.
- Almond, lemon and raspberry macarone – the texture wasn’t right, almost hollow inside and too sweet.
- Grand-Marnier and carrot cake – standard carrot cake
- Exotica and strawberry finger food – The best one so far, in terms of look and taste.  The layers of variety were fascinating.  I liked the complexity of textures and flavors.  Awesome sweet. 
- Sesame puff pastry roll with porcini sausage – It was delicious.  My friend loved it.

Raisin scones with home-made clotted cream and strawberry jam - clot cream – I have never had too many scones in my life but I must say that this is the best I ever had.  Especially with the wildgoose berry jam and clot cream.  Remarks the clot cream, it was the real thing, surely fattening but absolutely to die for. 

- Egg and mayonnaise "wrapped" – wrapped with cucumber into egg shape, cut in half.  The stuffing is mostly boiled egg.  It looked so good but tasted bland.  
- Ham and cheese multigrain bread – This one was just delicious.  Good bread.   
- Smoked salmon and chive cream cheese – It was slightly salty.  Salmon was average, standard good.  
Puff pork porchini - We all loved this one the most. 

This other set was for the Chinese New Year festival, supposedly a popular High Tea for the Peninsula Hotel in Hong Kong.       
Peninsula Chinese Afternoon Tea Set (Available 1 Feb - 28 Feb 2013)

- Mango pudding – basic pudding, nice and soft texture. 
- Lotus and sesame dumpling – had a good sesame scent.  Only if had it while it was hot, it would be much better.  We waited too long.
- Traditional egg tart –  the filling was nicely done.  The size could be bigger, too much tart crust than the filling. 
- Red bean "8" macarone – was similar to the macaroni in the traditional set.  Skin and inside were not together, almost hollow inside, and again too sweet.     
- Chinese pear and brown sugar soft cake – wasn’t my favorite but I guess the soft texture could be enjoyable for many.  

- Chinese mandarin scones with home-made clotted cream and wolfberry-strawberry, lychee honey –
The scones are just as great as the ones in the traditional set.  I spread some clotted cream and jam on there and it was perfect. 
- BBQ pork pastries – was a tasty one.  The pork was rich and flavorful.  The pastry made it even better. 
- Sesame seed bread roll with black pepper beef – this was an enjoyable one as well.
- Wok-fried boneless chicken "Peking style" Szechuan pepper bread – The bread was a bit chewy.  The overall taste was the combination of East and West.  Szechuan style chicken was a little bit spicy.
- Seared Chinese turnip pudding with XO sauce – Its jelly texture wasn’t awkward.  Usually the turnip at Chinese restaurants has better texture with the beans and veggies filling.  

My afternoon tea experience at the lobby of the Peninsula Hotel Bangkok was superb.  The tea, the High tea set, the live jazz music playing, the view of the river, and the A/C (lol); all collaborated into a one pleasurable afternoon.  I loved the traditional high tea set more than the chinese one.  Fortunately the better set is still available for you, at least until the new menu comes.  If you are familiar with the afternoon tea tradition and looking for a place serving the High Tea, I would say that this is the place to be.  I'd love to find more places serving the Afternoon tea with wonderful atmosphere like this.  Actually I would prefer shaded outdoor, surrounded by lush garden and overlooking the river.  Is there any in Bangkok? I know the Vieng Joom On in Chiang Mai.  That place is incredible.       

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